Management training fears are confirmed

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FEARS that British managers - from charge hands to directors - receive little or no formal training were confirmed yesterday by the government-backed organisation which sets standards for management.

About half UK companies have no training systems and only a third have drawn up development policies for senior executives, according to the employer-led Management Charter Initiative.

A survey of more than 500 companies found that only two in five firms in the machinery, manufacturing and engineering sector trained their managers. Three in five organisations selling business services trained their staff - the sector that came out the best in the study which covered a cross- section of businesses employing 21 people or more.

The report, prepared for MCI, Management Development in the UK, found that four out of five companies which employed more than 500 staff had drawn up a formal management training programme, compared to half this rate for those employing between 21 and 100 staff. Supervisors were found to receive more training than any other group.

Despite the relatively low level of provision, 9 out of 10 of the organisations in the survey thought that 'money spent on training is money well spent'. One in two of the companies cited improved efficiency, quality of work and higher profits.

Andrew Summers, chief executive of MCI, said that the figures probably constituted an improvement on previous practice, but they demonstrated that Britain had a long way to go in comparison with competing economies.

There was a contrast between the number of companies acknowledging the need for training and the numbers actually offering it.

'We must ensure that the good words are translated into fine practice,' he said.

Mr Summers thought that nationally, organisations and systems were now being set up which would make a considerable difference to the situation. The 102 employer-led Training and Enterprise Councils and Local Enterprise Companies would encourage firms locally, the emerging system of national vocational qualifications would rationalise certification and the Government's Investors in People kitemark initiative would stimulate higher standards.

Management Development in the UK, published by Management Charter Initiative, Russell Square House, 10-12 Russell Square, London WC1B 5BZ.